Our lives are often cluttered with objects without purpose. Check out a thought-provoking treatise by Bruce Sterling on owning stuff—including how to identify which objects are worthy of your time and space, and a reminder to toss the rest so you can improve the quality of your life.
We’ve tackled the issue of clutter many times here before, from the psychology behind holding onto clutter to how much money clutter might be costing you. Having needless stuff around can be a big productivity- and mood-buster. On the other hand, the “less is more” approach need not mean living a completely austere lifestyle.
GreenBiz has highlighted salient points from a long, philosophical essay called the Last Viridian Note written by Bruce Sterling. One of the key points Sterling makes is that having too much of the wrong kind of stuff can be a burden, but “economising” or just being a cheapskate misses the point too. Basically:
What you need are things that you GENUINELY like. Things that you cherish, that enhance your existence in the world. The rest is dross.
When re-evaluating your possessions (or purchasing a new item, I might add), ask yourself three questions:
- Is it beautiful—something you’re proud of displaying?
- Is it emotionally important to you—help you establish who you are or who you want to be?
- Is it useful—and something you definitely currently or will use?
If not, get rid of it (e.g., donate, recyle), or pass on buying it. Instead, Sterling advises everyone “get radically improved everyday things.” Invest in a good bed, for example, since you spend a third of your life in one. Good shoes, an ergonomic chair, a multi-function tool—these are things your money should go towards.
Paring down and focusing on the critical, yet normal stuff can greatly improve the quality of your daily life.
Hit up the full essay by Sterling below or GreenBiz’s coverage of it for some other excerpts. If you have thoughts or tips on redefining your relationship with things (or just clutter-clearing!), share them in the comments. Photo by The Shopping Sherpa